Gold Rush II: Exploration and Mining in the Yukon

The Klondike Gold Rush helped to define a region, and a second Yukon gold rush is only just beginning to inspire further exploration and mining in the Yukon.

The remote Northwestern Canadian territory of the Yukon is known to people the world over largely due to the events that took place between 1896 and 1899. The Klondike Gold Rush brought tens of thousands of people to the previously barely known region and those four short years created numerous stories of adventure and riches that today live on as legend and define the remote territory.

Over the century since, the Yukon’s mining industry has continued to be the primary source of economic development in the region, as it features a wealth of resources matched by few other places on earth. Today, the Yukon is in the midst of what has been described as a second gold rush, driven by high precious metal values and the discovery of yet another ‘once in a generation’ gold trend. A wave of nearly $ 1 billion in Yukon mining investment since 2010 has signified the rush. The Yukon’s 21st century gold rush probably won’t be the stuff of romanticised legend like its predecessor, but for resource exploration companies in the area, it’s no less exciting.

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Generic Gold Corp. (CSE:GGC) is a junior exploration company that owns multiple, well-positioned properties in the Tintina Gold Belt in the Yukon, Canada.Send me an Investor Kit

Exploration and mining in the Yukon

The Yukon remains one of the world’s prime destinations for gold exploration and development. Despite the long history of exploration, the territory still has much more to offer. The gold mining that has traditionally been carried out in the Yukon has been from placer deposits associated with the territory’s rivers and gravel beds with over 20 million ounces of gold mined from the territory’s gravels to date. The Yukon’s bedrock, however, remains largely unexploited. Recent gold discoveries and development in the region like Goldcorp’s (TSX:G,NYSE:GG) Coffee project and Victoria Gold’s (TSXV:VIT) Eagle projects are testaments to the metal endowment that remains in the area. Besides gold, the Yukon is host to around 2,700 known mineral occurrences with established reserves of copper, iron, silver, tungsten, zinc and lead.

The Yukon Territory is one of the best mining jurisdictions in Canada thanks to more than just its resource wealth. Canada in general is well regarded as one of the safest countries for mining, both politically and financially. The Yukon territorial government is highly supportive of mining activity, providing government funding initiatives and a transparent, expedient and an industry-friendly early-stage permitting process.

Like most of Canada, the Yukon hosts the traditional territories of several indigenous First Nations groups. Unlike many of Canada’s other provinces and territories, however, most of the Yukon’s First Nations’ land claims have been settled, making permitting and consultation with these groups straightforward compared to other Canadian mining jurisdictions.

The remote region’s relative lack of infrastructure and development has been a downside in the past, but in September 2017, the Yukon government announced a major road network expansion that will make exploration in the White Gold District — the epicentre of the Yukon’s modern gold rush — significantly less expensive.

The Yukon gold rushes: 1896 to today

In the summer of 1896, Tagish First Nation prospector Skookum Jim Mason, along with his sister, American brother-in-law, and nephew stumbled upon gold in a creek south of the Klondike River. The next day, they staked the first claim of the Klondike Gold Rush. As news of the discovery spread, prospectors from throughout the region abandoned their claims and relocated their efforts to the Klondike hoping for similar luck. A few massive gold discoveries were made in the area by other prospectors throughout the fall and winter, and by the spring of 1897, word had reached the outside world. Tens of thousands headed to the Yukon over the next three year. Of these prospectors only about 4,000 ever struck gold, even fewer actually became rich and hundreds died in the harsh wilderness.

The estimated total value of gold found over those four years works out to about $ 29 million in today’s currency. While the massive stampede of hopefuls disappeared as quickly as it began by 1900, the lasting economic legacy was the development of mining infrastructure and industry in the Yukon, which continues to this day.

The Yukon’s second gold rush is just kicking off, and this time the activity is being carried out by a vastly more sophisticated mining industry. Famed gold prospector Shawn Ryan discovered the White Gold deposit within the Yukon portion of the Tintina Gold Belt in 2001. The deposit features some of the highest-grade gold ever discovered in the Yukon. Rising precious metal values in recent years have sparked a rush of both major and junior exploration companies to the district aided with modern exploration production methods that those 1897 prospectors could never have dreamed of.

Major investments

Since 2016, mining majors have invested more than $ 600 million into the Yukon. The modern day rush began in earnest in 2016 with an ongoing series of major moves and acquisitions. In 2016, Goldcorp bought up Kaminak Gold (TSXV:KAM) for $ 520 million, including its Coffee gold project, as well as 19.9 percent of Independence Gold. Later that year, Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM) invested $ 14.5 million for 19 percent of White Gold (TSXV:WGO,OTC–Nasdaq Intl:WHGOF,FWB:29W). In 2017, Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) entered into a $ 53 million earn-in agreement in Goldstrike Resources’ (TSXV:GSR) Plateau project. Goldcorp made yet another move into the Yukon in 2017 with a $ 6.2 million investment for 19.9 percent of Triumph Gold (TSXV:TIG) and the company’s Freegold Mountain project. Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX,NYSE:ABX) signed a property earn-in and strategic investment deal with ATAC worth as much as $ 63 million in Spring 2017.

Hot on the majors’ heels, junior mining firms have been getting in the the Yukon’s modern gold rush as well. These junior projects are often located nearby and contiguous with the projects of the majors in the area. Generic Gold (CSE:GGC), for instance, owns three properties in the White Gold area, totalling 39,829 hectares of Yukon land. The company’s VIP project is located near Goldcorp’s Coffee Gold deposits, which feature proven and probable reserves of 2.16 million ounces of gold, an indicated resource of 780,000 ounces and an inferred resource of 1.15 million ounces. Generic’s Goodman project is nearby and contiguous with Victoria Gold’s Eagle deposit, which has reported 3.6 million ounces of gold measured and indicated and 276,000 ounces inferred. Generic’s Livingstone property produced gold before the original Klondike Gold Rush, in the form of more than 50,000 ounces of coarse gold nuggets. Recent prospecting results indicate more gold still from this property’s bedrock. Other junior mining firms in the Yukon with projects near major deposits include Alexco Resource (TSX:AXR) and Western Copper & Gold (TSX:WRN).

Takeaway

The Yukon’s legendary gold mining history is headed for a new era as some of the world’s largest gold mining players as well as ambitious juniors rush for property along the territory’s richest trends. There’s gold in them hills, and the new gold rush has just begun.

This INNspired article is sponsored by Generic Gold (CSE:GGC). This article was written according to INN editorial standards to educate investors. 

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